As Regards Woodwork

by Nathan Stanley

What does the music of Antonio Vivaldi have to do with wood work? Well, I think absolutely everything.

What I hear in Vivaldi are musical phrases that are built up with a thousand brilliant pieces of light. Just when I think that he has created the ultimate in a long musical phrase, I am pleased to discover that Vivaldi is just getting started, and what takes place then is pure magic. To say he doesn’t stop at half measures is putting it so lightly. For him, the colors are never brilliant enough, and the sadness can never be too painful. The degrees of everything from a delicate drop on a leaf to the anny approaching at the gate, is summed up and every race and sex who listens, responds.

I am confident that woodwork can be all of these things. The lathework, the woodcarvings, the joinery can all come together like instruments in a symphony, but beware! All is not well.

As in the Roman Empire, we currently find ourselves much in the same position. By the end of the Roman Empire, the arts and apprenticeships that were needed to produce works of excellence and beauty, which, at an earlier date had been ubiquitous, became so neglected. In order for a new arch to be built in tribute to a Caesars’ triumph, they could no longer find the workmen available who were up to the task. The historian Edward Gibbon describes how they had to rely heavily upon stealing artifacts from Greece, then attach them to the new works or arches in Rome.

Does this ring any bell? Are there any great modern bars or restaurants today that don’t have something shipped in from Europe or from here one hundred years ago? As a woodworker, I feel so blessed to have contributed to this new affair on 10th and Nicollet*. The people involved all believed that maybe it’s not too late. Lets not steal old treasures from Greece this time. Maybe there’s still some imagination in this civilization yet. And whether it succeeds or fails, we used music to lead us down the path and show us the way.

*A bar and restaurant an Minneapolis called The Local


Nathan Stanley has taught classes on the construction of co!umns and pillars at the Woodworker’s Store.